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Fill and spill of giant lakes in the eastern Valles Marineris region of Mars

Nicholas H. Warner, Mariam Sowe, Sanjeev Gupta, Alexander Dumke and Kate Goddard
Fill and spill of giant lakes in the eastern Valles Marineris region of Mars
Geology (Boulder) (April 2013) 41 (6): 675-678


The existence of Hesperian age (3.7-3.4 Ga) surface water bodies on Mars is a contentious issue, often conflicting with favored climate models. Extensive lakes are proposed to have filled parts of Valles Marineris during this period, yet evidence for their presence and temporal continuity is poorly constrained. Here we report geomorphic and chronologic evidence for the initiation and demise of a voluminous lake system within the basins of eastern Valles Marineris. We find that independent, kilometer-deep lakes were present here well after the wetter, global climate optimum that characterized the previous Noachian epoch (4.1-3.7 Ga). Relative and impact crater chronologies of flood channels emerging from lake basins indicate relatively late lake spillover in the Early Amazonian (ca. 3.0 Ga). Drawdown of the lake and cessation of interbasin sedimentation may be recorded by a similar Early Amazonian (ca. 3.1 Ga) crater retention age on the surface of Capri Mensa, a 4-km-tall, sulfate-bearing interior layered deposit. The topography data demonstrate that incision of the bedrock barriers between the basins during spillover was driven by a dramatic local base-level difference between the lake surface and downstream basin floors. We postulate that the lake spillover process created an integrated drainage routing system between a voluminous equatorial water supply and the northern plains basin.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 41
Serial Issue: 6
Title: Fill and spill of giant lakes in the eastern Valles Marineris region of Mars
Affiliation: Imperial College London, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, London, United Kingdom
Pages: 675-678
Published: 20130429
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 21
Accession Number: 2013-043455
Categories: Extraterrestrial geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2013186
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
Secondary Affiliation: Freie Universitaet Berlin, DEU, Germany
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201327
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